Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lone Star Rises for Dems in Abortion Battle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lone Star Rises for Dems in Abortion Battle

Article excerpt

Wendy Davis strode onto the floor of the Texas Senate chamber on Tuesday in rouge-red running shoes, and came off it early Wednesday morning as the Democratic Party's newest star.

During 13 hours in between, the little-known legislator from Fort Worth delivered a filibuster that electrified social media and stopped passage of one of the nation's toughest set of abortion restrictions in the waning hours of a special session.

As word spread, supporters thronged the capitol's entrances, lined the walkways encircling the rotunda and turned the Senate chamber's gallery into a cheering section.

What made the scene so riveting was the woman who was required to speak without a break, without straying from the topic and without even leaning on her antique walnut desk. As time ran out, Republicans deemed her to have violated those rules -- including once for being helped with a back brace -- and made her give up the floor. Such was the bedlam, however, that when the 19-10 vote finally happened, it came several minutes too late for a midnight deadline.

That kind of tenacity has also been the story of her life. Ms. Davis, 50, became a mother while still in her teens, lived for a time in a trailer park and graduated with honors from Harvard Law School.

As she spoke, Twitter registered 400,000 tweets with the #StandWithWendy. One of them came from the official account of President Barack Obama, and said: "Something special is happening in Austin tonight."

But it was a rare -- and likely temporary -- victory for abortion rights advocates.

Ms. Davis succeeded in running out the clock on the session. So late Wednesday afternoon, Texas' Republican Gov. Rick Perry announced that he would call the legislature back for another special session, to begin July 1. The abortion bill appears certain to be considered again, and if the GOP leadership acts quickly enough, it will not be subject to a filibuster. …

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